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November 2, 2011, 5:41 pm<!– — Updated: 5:41 pm –>

12 Are Charged in Medicare Fraud Schemes Said to Cost $95 Million


Federal agents swarmed several medical clinics and homes in New York City on Wednesday, arresting 10 people on charges of running Medicare fraud schemes that bilked the government out of $95 million, federal officials said.

Another defendant charged in one of the schemes surrendered later to the authorities and a 12th defendant was still at large on Wednesday afternoon, the officials said.

The defendants included three medical doctors, a doctor of osteopathy and a chiropractor, the United States Department of Justice said in a news release.

The cases are part of an aggressive campaign by the Justice Department and the Department of Health and Human Services to combat the escalating problem of health care fraud. In 2007, a special team was formed to combat fraud in Medicare, the federal program that helps provide health care for older people.

Since its creation, the team has charged more than 1,130 defendants across the country with falsely billing the Medicare program in schemes said to total more than $2.9 billion.

In the case announced on Wednesday, six of the defendants operated out of two medical clinics in Flushing, Queens, and were accused of submitting about $11.7 million in false claims to the Medicare program for physical therapy, electric-stimulation treatments and other services, the officials said.

Those six defendants — Ho Yon Kim, 85, and Hoi Yat Kam, 57, both of Flushing; Peter Lu, 36, and John Knox, 54, both of the Bronx; and Elaine Kim, 50, and Gilbert Kim, 59, both of Bayside, N.Y. — provided their clients with a variety of spa treatments, including massages and facials, but instead billed Medicare for physical therapy and other services that were never provided, the officials said.

The defendants, who worked at URI Medical Center and Sarang Medical PC, both in Flushing, also offered lunches and dance classes to Medicare beneficiaries in exchange for their Medicare account numbers, which were then used to file false claims, the federal investigators said.

Another defendant, Emma Poroger, 56, of Staten Island, was charged in a separate indictment for participating in a scheme to defraud Medicare of approximately $13 million, officials said.  Ms. Poroger, a doctor of osteopathy, is accused of billing Medicare for a variety of services that were never provided, including vitamin infusion therapy, sleep studies, nerve conduction tests and medical scans, officials said.

In a third case, five defendants — Larisa Shelabadova, 34, Alexander Zaretser, 31, Anatoly Kraiter, 33, Vladimir Kornev, 52, and Yelena Galper, 38, all of Brooklyn — were charged with participating in a scheme to launder the proceeds of Medicare fraud at three Brooklyn medical clinics: Bay Medical Care PC, SVS Wellcare Medical PLLC and SZS Medical Care PLLC.

The officials accused the defendants of using beneficiaries’ names to bill Medicare for approximately $71 million in services that they never provided. In exchange, the beneficiaries were paid kickbacks, the officials said.

This was not the first trip authorities have made to Bay Medical Care. In July 2010, investigators charged eight people working at the center with running a $72 million Medicare fraud ring.

“These defendants allegedly invested significant time and energy in subterfuge to conceal their ill-gotten government funds,” Loretta E. Lynch, the United States attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said on Wednesday following the arrests.  “Money laundering is a critical part of large-scale health care fraud schemes and often the most difficult piece to unravel.”

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IconWritten by Rob Lillpopp on April 29, 2011 – 6:25 am

“Aides to Gov. Cuomo revealed yesterday that they found massive waste in state government — including 1 million square feet of unused state office space in New York City, nearly 2,000 vendors providing often duplicated products and services, and 425 toll-free phone numbers that haven’t been used in months.” write Fred Dicker and Brendan Scott in the New York Post.

“They discovered that state agencies rented costly new office space as recently as December — even as the equivalent of a skyscraper’s worth of state-owned and state-rented office space stood vacant — costing taxpayers more than $30 million a year.”

To read more from the Post click here.